Office Relocation: Employee Rights

What are employee rights in regards to office relocation? How does it affect them/their families? Is it against their contract to be expected to relocate to a new city? Does the company have to pay relocation costs/help find new accommodation?

Office relocation is quite common; companies may have to move locations in order to reduce costs, merge with other companies or to restructure the business. There are many effects that the move of office could have upon you and your family. The new location could cause increased travel time and costs. If it is far away then you may need to move house which you might not be able to afford or you could be unwilling to leave your current home. If you have older parents that you need to care for, the new location could be impractical. The move of home could also affect your children’s education if they have to change schools.

If your employer moves the location of your office your rights and commitments depends on the terms of your contract of employment. Some contracts can contain a mobility clause which can require you to move with the office. If your contract contains a mobility clause then your employers usually have the power to force you to move according the limitations allowed in the clause. This holds unless the relocation is deemed “completely unreasonable”. There is no absolute distance that is regarded as “reasonable” as it all depends on your specific circumstances. If the relocation causes you little extra logistical effort then it would most likely be unreasonable to refuse to move. However, if it involves a complicated or long journey or it affects personal matters such as your children’s education or your family circumstances it would be allowable for you to refuse.

However, if there is no mobility clause in your contract and you do not want to move then your employer has the right to make you redundant. He can only make you redundant if the job at your current offices no longer exists or he has offered you an alternative but you refuse the job because it is unsuitable for you.

You may receive a redundancy payment depending on a number of employment factors including how long you have been working for the company and if your refusal to move is considered as “unreasonable”. Also, if the company offers you compensation for the move and you still refuse to relocate you may be allowed a redundancy payment.

However, you may wish to relocate with your employers as many offer financial help with the moving expenses, legal fees and temporary accommodation. This is not a legal requirement but some employers offer it because it helps to persuade reluctant employees to relocate.

In all, if your employers are relocating there are a number of things you should do:

  • First, check your employment contract for a mobility clause.
  • Discuss the situation with your friends and family to make sure that it is practical.
  • See if your company is offering any kind of compensation for the move.
  • Discuss the situation with your employers and see if the problems you have with the move can be rectified.

However, if you do refuse to relocate and your employer is unwilling to give you redundancy pay on the grounds that you are being unreasonable you can take your case to the Employment Tribunal to refute the claim.

Where to get help:

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas)

The Labour Relations Agency (LRA)

Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)

Further information on Employee Rights, Work and Pay Entitlements, Maternity Rights, Workplace Disputes and Equal Opportunities.

One thought on “Office Relocation: Employee Rights

  1. Pam Greenfield Post authorReply

    This has been useful to me. I have a situation where my increased journey and mode of transport is greatly increasing my journey costs and may affect my health long term as I have chronic health problems. I had a flexible arrangement allowing me to work from home on Fridays or on days where my health problems were an issue, or for doctor’s and consultant’s appointments. It was not built into my contract but has been taken away from me since relocation. I need to know what I need to do to prove that the increased stress of the journey and the costs are having a detrimental effect on my health with a view to allowing me to work from home one day a week and work in a more local office to me one day a week, so only having to commute 3 days a week. Any advice on this would be gratefully received.

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